Defender’s drone deploys in minutes to detect threats

  • Published
  • By Sarah McNair
  • AFIMSC Public Affairs

Tech. Sgt. Dustin Spooner has an innovative idea to enhance the operational success of small unmanned aerial systems across the Air Force enterprise.

As the noncommissioned officer in charge of concepts and innovations for the Air Force Security Forces Center, Spooner is the center’s action officer for sUAS and counter sUAS innovations. His concept simplifies the deployment of these drones to allow Defenders to start assessing and collecting information faster.

He is also one step closer to bringing his idea to fruition as one of the 2023 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo finalists.

We asked him a few questions about his idea, being a finalist and his thoughts on innovation and empowering Airmen and Guardians.

Q: What is the name of your idea? 
ACE Xpand: Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance

Q: Please briefly describe your idea: 
The ACE Xpand: ISR is an expandable winged drone that fits in a backpack. It can be deployed in less than two minutes to assess ground situational awareness for an Air Force Force Generation, or AFFORGEN, base package. Security forces can use it to establish air base defense in a fraction of current the time.

Q. How will your idea help the Air Force deliver installation and mission support capabilities, improve installations or support families in a better way? 
It will allow anyone to deploy sUAS or C-sUAS capabilities within minutes and start gathering intelligence. 

Q. How does it feel to be selected as a finalist for the 2023 Innovation Rodeo? 
It feels fantastic! I know that this will help the warfighter be better and do better.

Q. As a finalist, you’ll be learning from leading innovators, collaborating with industry partners, and networking with peers, senior leaders, and innovation teams. What are you hoping to gain from that experience? 
I’m hoping to learn how to clean up the rough edges of the design and innovation.

Q: Why do you think innovation and a culture change that empowers Airmen and Guardians is important in today’s Air and Space Force? 
Innovation is something that we need to focus on. Other countries are using innovation to get after problems and to simplify things that are already created. We need to focus on both innovation and culture change to be truly effective.

The 2023 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo finals will be held July 21 in San Antonio. For more information, visit